Blackburn with Darwen Council is to receive more than £1.5 million next year to help combat drug and alcohol misuse across the borough.

The additional funding comes from a £267 million investment from government to be distributed between every local authority in England which will help to boost treatment and cut crime.

The money forms part of the government’s landmark 10-year drug strategy to improve quality and access of drug and alcohol treatment by reducing drug use to a 30-year low.

Blackburn with Darwen Council will receive a drug strategy allocation of £1,795,698 and an inpatient detoxification allocation of £55,334.

Blackpool will receive £2,762,343, and £64,524 respectively, with the remaining local authorities under Lancashire County Council’s helm receiving a share of £8,174,432 for drug strategy and £220,493 for inpatient detoxification.

The funding, which will be rolled out in April 2024, will enable local authorities to recruit more specialised staff to work with people with drug and alcohol problems; support more prison leavers into treatment and recovery services; and help reduce crime by increasing the number of people receiving structured drug and alcohol treatment, as well as improving the quality of treatment provided, which in turn helps make streets safer by getting people out of drug use addictions which is known to drive offending.

Health Minister Neil O’Brien said: “Drug addiction drives about half of all crimes, so by investing in high quality and greater availability of treatment we can reduce crime rates and save lives.

“We aim to raise the number of people getting drug and alcohol treatment to a record high by investing through the long-term investment we’ve been making over the last three years.

“Today’s allocations will see £267 million go directly to local authorities and their partners to improve services, increase capacity and quality of treatment and recovery systems, and is based on the recommendations made by Dame Carol Black in her independent review.”

As part of the allocation more people will benefit from residential rehabilitation or inpatient detoxification, while improvements to the recovery services will sustain people’s treatment and help to reduce relapse rates. 

This funding is in addition to £95.4 million made available in 2022 to 2023 and £154.3 million for this year – with an overall additional investment of £421 million into drug and alcohol treatment since April 2022.

Public health and wellbeing boss at Blackburn with Darwen Council, Cllr Damian Talbot said: "There's a lot of work ongoing in relation to drug and alcohol rehabilitation in the borough, and we always welcome more funding as it's a big challenge and the individuals dealing with these issues have got a lot of personal history that makes rehabilitation difficult, so the more support the better. 

"What we would really like to see is more long term funding, so staff providing these services can have that job security.

"It also takes around 10 years to see real results, due to relapse issues, and quite often there's money being released but not over a long period of time.

"The funding is obviously very welcome but it can take many years to make a change in people's lives but the overall message is we are grateful to receive the funds."

From Harm to Hope, published in December 2021, sets out the government’s 10-year ambition to ensure as many people as possible can get the treatment they need by significantly increasing the number of treatment places and recovery services.

Over the first three years of the strategy, the additional investment in treatment and recovery will help prevent nearly 1,000 drug-related deaths - reversing the upward trend in drug deaths for the first time in a decade.

The strategy also sets out that illegal drug use such as heroin and crack addiction are connected to half of all homicides, and nearly half of all burglaries, robberies and other acquisitive crimes. 

Dame Carol Black’s independent review of drugs found the best way to tackle this issue is by boosting the capacity of the treatment and recovery system.

Professor Dame Carol Black, independent adviser to the government on combating drug misuse, said: “A key aim of my report was to make sure vulnerable people with substance misuse problems can access the support and tools needed to recover and lead full lives. 

“Today’s allocations of almost £267m will go directly to local authorities and their partners, meaning they can deliver treatment that is tailored to meet local needs. 

“The end goal is to get many people into world-class recovery and treatment system, reduce drug use and drug related crime – and ultimately save lives.”

Delivering quality treatment provision is core to recovery, and in addition to this significant investment additional grant funding has gone into accommodation and employment support.

The government’s work to clamp down on the criminal gangs profiting from the trade in illegal drugs is backed by £300 million investment (over three years). Since the County Lines Programme was launched in 2019, police activity has resulted in more than 4,700 lines closed, 14,800 arrests, and 7,200 safeguarding referrals.

An example of the work supported in 2023 to 2024 includes a service in Lancashire which was launched to support women affected by problem alcohol and drug use who are engaged in the criminal justice system.

This included targeted support within police custody suites, enhanced support to help women engage in treatment and provide safe spaces for women to access mental health support.

This new funding is prioritised for areas with the highest need, based on the rate of drug deaths, deprivation, opiate and crack cocaine prevalence and crime, considering of the size of the treatment population.

Treatment will be available for a wide range of substances, including heroin, crack, powder cocaine, ecstasy, and cannabis - the latter remaining the most common substance (87 per cent) for which young people receive treatment.

This investment should have clear links to support the plans from Combating Drugs Partnerships on how it will reduce drug-related crime, including improving access and take up of quality treatment for those dependent on opiate and crack cocaine.

To support this, government has targeted work across the criminal justice system to increase referrals, including a new police-led referrals into treatment plan, led by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and supported by the Home Office and Department for Health and Social Care.